Life is chaotic. It brings the best and worst of times randomly to every person around the world. A banner day can be followed by a death in the family, perfectly healthy family members can fall ill suddenly, you add a little one to the family, or you're severely injured in an accident on your way to Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte. These real moments can raise many questions – one of the more prominent being – will this affect my job?
Family and friends are defined by their support and love for you in times of celebration and need, but what about the law and your employer? Do they have your back as well? Employment law firm attorneys, Friedman & Abrahamsen explains:
"The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to provide job security during times of qualified medical and family reasons. If eligibility requirements are met, FMLA provides employees entitlement of up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period. And, FMLA requires employers to restore employees who return from FMLA leave to the same or equivalent position with pay, benefits and responsibilities similar to the level that existed when leave began."
When does the FMLA Apply?
The following life events are covered by the FMLA:
- 1.Birth and care of the eligible employee's child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee.
- 2.Care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition.
- 3.Care of the employee's own serious health condition.
Notifying your employer ahead of time about utilizing FMLA is helpful, but not always an option. Adoption and childbirth are events that have a general timeframe, but sickness and injury can crop up unexpectedly, so employers must be ready to accommodate you. They cannot refuse you FMLA rights because enough time wasn't given beforehand.
What are the Eligibility Requirements?
The following are necessary to be eligible for FMLA rights:
- Work at a work site within 75 miles of employer
- Have worked at least a total of 12 months for the employer
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date FMLA leave begins
These are not complicated requirements for eligibility. Regardless of your eligibility for FMLA, a good business tip is stay organized and track your work. If there were to ever be a problem (whistleblowing, unlawful termination, sexual harassment, etc.), it benefits you to be prepared with evidence of time and work done.
Why Knowing Your FMLA Rights is Important
Life isn't about work – it's about what's important to you. Taking care of ourselves, loved ones, and new additions to the family are always going to take precedence, so it wouldn't be right for employers (who are people, too) to hold that against employees. We all deserve a pause from work to handle life events without losing careers that we've worked so hard to attain. If employers don't respect your FMLA rights or retaliate for exercising them, you need to feel protected and confident in your defense. Life doesn't get in the way of work, work needs to accommodate life.